Peachtree Clearwing Borer Moth
Identification: Male and female very different (dimorphic).
Female: Entirely black, including front wings. Hind wing transparent with black scales at the base of the wing, sometimes the scales appear as a black stripe. Legs entirely black, with some scattered white scaling. Abdomen black, except segment 4 entirely orange. Abdomen tip tufted, entirely black, square. (No photos).
Head: Black. Variable: pale yellowish-white hair to top of head, back of head at middle only, and on inner eye margin. None of the marks on head are reliable for ID. Nose cone (palpi) black with some yellow on underside.
Antenna: Black, long reaching mid-abdomen; fine hairs (pectinate).
Thorax: Black with pale yellowish-white stripe down each side. Two spots, barely separated at end of thorax, may be faded or absent on older individuals. Thorax side has a pale yellowish-white spot.
Wings: Both front and hind wings are transparent. Hind wing is yellow tinted and margin may appears as an extra bar through to the front wing.
Forewing has narrow black, shiny margins, Wide, black bar at 2/3 wing length (discal cell). Fringe black.
Main ID: Hindwing shiny, yellowish. Tiny mark at mid wing margin is barely visible. Outer margin (costal) is narrow, golden, rest of margins black. Tip with black fringe; sometimes golden along inner margin.
Legs: Black, shiny. Shins (tibiae) have thick pale yellowish-white scales, sometimes absent except on joints.
Abdomen: Black with pale yellowish-white, thin stripes across lower margin of all segments. Segment 3 stripe faded at side edges. Stripes fade quickly and may be entirely absent. Main ID: Abdomen tip has tuft of hair arrowhead shaped, flared out at sides, narrowing to a sharp point, with a white stripe down each side.
The Lesser Peachtree Clearwing Borer Synanthedon pictipes male has a white spot at side edges of abdominal segment 4; striped legs; hindwings clear not yellowish; abdomen tip is not flared, black sometimes a few flecks of white.
The Currant Clearwing Borer Synanthedon tipuliformis male has only 3 abdominal stripes and a very large, square abdominal tuft.
All other similar males have white on antennae.
A worn female could be mistaken for the Boneset Clearwing Borer Carmenta pyralidiformis which also has a wide yellow (not orange) stripe on abdomen and a yellow stripe each side of thorax (absent on S. exitiosa).
The Red-belted or Apple Clearwing Synanthedon myopaeformis female has wide orange stripe on abdomen, but forewings are hyaline, not solid black as in S. exitiosa.
Size: Female 10 to 15 mm., male 8 to 13 mm. long.
Habitat: Fruit farms and deciduous woods.
Food: Prunus species: Apricot, peach, plum, cherry; Serviceberry Amelanchier.
Flight Time: June to September.
Life Cycle: Adults emerge from June to September and lay eggs on injured lower trunks or surface roots of Prunus. Larvae feed in tunnels, overwinter and resume feeding in spring. Pupate in tunnel, just under bark surface, sometimes taking two years. Larvae about 30 mm long, cream-coloured with a large brown head.
Comments: Common in s. w. Ontario, Essex County. A lot of confusion with this species throughout it’s history has generated 25 synonyms.
DNA problems: Over 20 samples (and the list keeps changing) from BOLD were ‘suppressed’ or ‘not found’ by GenBank. Many are obvious errors in identification. One from Colorado is clearly Synanthedon helenis.
For a long list of information on synonyms, references and type specimens see next page